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Are your cows eating what they should be?

Dairy Pipeline: October 1996

by Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
Virginia Tech Extension Scientist,

This is the time of year that cows should be eating well. The adaptation to the new crop corn silage should be complete. Most herds have several fresh cows that are approaching or past peak milk production and, consequently, are beginning to peak in dry matter consumption. In a study we conducted at Virginia Tech we found that Holsteins consumed 49 lbs. of dry matter when producing 75 lbs. of milk and Jerseys consumed 38 lbs. when producing 52 lbs. Dry matter intake as a percent of body weight was 3.7% for Holsteins and 4.0% for Jerseys. Higher producers would consume even more. Therefore, your higher producing groups should have dry matter intakes approaching 4.0% of body weight or more. This means that plenty of good quality feed should be available the majority of the day. Feed bunks should be cleaned out daily and feed refusals removed. Also plenty of fresh water should be available. Check to see if your herd is eating as much as they should be. If not, find the reason why.

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